So you want to grow your business online and increase your:
- search engine rankings
- site traffic
- lead capture and
but you’re overwhelmed with all you’ve got to do to stand out amongst the sea of content.
You just need a plan.
Many businesses struggle to keep up with the consistent demands that make a killer content marketing campaign.
Read this article – and you won’t be one of them.
This guide walks you through the four pillars of high-performance content marketing and will teach you how to create scalable, relevant, high-converting content your target audience will love.
Pillar 1: Content Research
- Why is content research important
- What research tools should you use
- How to use Google Analytics, Keyword Planner, Search Operators and Trends
- What is a buyer persona
Pillar 2: Content Planning
- What are the types of content that you should use
- How to use keywords as the backbone of your digital campaign
- How to create, manage and optimize a content calendar
Pillar 3: Content Creation
- Content creation process
- Key qualities of various types of online content
Pillar 4: Content Promotion
- Owned distribution channels
- Paid distribution channels
How to read this article:
If you’re a business owner/CEO/CMO:
This article will provide you with an understanding of the overarching content requirements. Your contributions will be required for identifying buyers persona, brand voice, and aligning a content calendar with notable business milestones (launches, promotions etc.)
If you’re a content manager:
Follow each step sequentially and take action as soon as possible. Particular focus on qualified research results, alongside team and project management, is recommended.
If you’re a solopreneur:
You too will be best served to follow each step, taking into consideration that more time will be required to produce content and scale the system.
This system will streamline the creation process of high performing online content for your business.
Dig deep and enjoy…
Don’t have time to read the whole thing now?
Pillar 1 – Content Research
Properly crafted content campaigns start and end with research.
Those who thoroughly prepare in the research and planning phases will experience a much higher ROI than those who sit down and write about what they think their audience wants to read about.
As the saying goes – fail to prepare and you’ve prepared to fail.
Here’s a list of key information you should look for when conducting content research:
Keyword Performance and Rankings
Keyword research is an essential aspect of any successful content project.
It enables you to uncover how many people search for specific keywords and how your website ranks for them – both of which are required to optimize your content for search engines.
For example: Knowing that your online shoe store ranks 10th for the keyword “Red Shoe” vs. 100th for the keyword “Shoe Company”.
This shows that your website is doing great with communicating to Google via your content that your company offers “Red Shoes”, but lacks content that fully communicates to search engines that your company is a “Shoe Company”.
Knowing how your website ranks for its primary keywords, informs you of adjustments that can be made that will improve the overall infrastructure of your content.
These insights make avail the opportunity to strengthen your content’s current weaknesses (Ex: Shoe Company keywords) whilst continuing to capitalize on high performing pieces (Ex: content that uses the Red Shoe keyword).
Google Analytics Audience Report
Why is it important?
Creating good content…
(stuff that people want to read, share and that will make your brand stick in their minds)..
requires that first, you find out what is, in fact, going on in their heads.
This begins with understanding your audience’s key demographic and psychographic information.
Thankfully, uncovering this information is pretty easy as Google collects it through various digital touch points such as:
- App Messages
- Web Browsing
- Youtube User History
- and more…
From this info, they get detailed insights into the behavior and identity of your website’s audience.
GA’s audience report also provides you with an opportunity to analyze on a micro level – providing an intimate understanding of the people that actually consume and engage with your content.
This data will provide insights into:
- The average range of audience age
- The gender of your audience
Drill down deeper into your market segments – Audience Interest – to reveal an ocean of metrics that will powerfully impact your marketing campaigns.
Affinity Categories: This area shows groups of users that are interested in a certain activity, hobby, or topic.
- For Example: Technophiles, Sports Fans, and Cooking Enthusiasts.
In-Market Segment: This area shows groups of users that are interested in certain products or services.
- For Example: People looking for a holiday, smartphone or piece of sports equipment.
Other Categories: A drilled down version of the Affinity Category.
- For Example: people who travel a lot and the airlines they use to fly to their destination, people who play a lot of games on a smartphone, or which football teams people watch.
Using this hyper-relevant data, you can create highly tailored content campaigns that will powerfully connect with your audience.
For Example: If you’re a shoe company, and during your research you’ve learned that 80% of your website visitors are male between the ages of 18 – 38 and are avidly interested in basketball. Then your next content campaign should be to create a series of videos and blogs that feature ball players, shoes and other significant nods to their beloved subculture.
Social Media Metrics
If you haven’t carved out a slice in the social sphere – get on it!
For those that have, it’s time to take advantage of the super useful metrics that are available.
It should come as no surprise that apps like:
- Snapchat and
- Pinterest (just to name a few)…
are a wealth of inspiration to look to when determining the kinds of content that will ignite awareness and spark engagement with your target audience.
Each has their own insight tools that offer analytics such as user behavior, consumer interests, activities, and habits. Additionally, they act as a powerful gage for determining the effectiveness of the performance of your content.
Look for the kinds of content that elicit high engagement and performs in conjunction with a platforms algorithms – then recreate a unique spin, craft it specifically for the platform of choice, and be sure that whatever you add, provides value to your audience.
Sounds easy enough.
However, researching useable consumer data in the sea of social metrics requires equal parts objectivity and intention.
If you know what to look for, you’ll be able to identify what separates viral content from that which gets buried under the more than 3 billion pieces of written and pictorial content and the more then 1 billion hours of videos that are shared and consumed via social media each and every day.
Where do you start?
There are more than 100 social media metrics out there that you could gather and analyze but of course, not all of them are necessary.
The social metrics that matter:
- Age and gender, lifestyle, education, relationship status, job role, household size, and estimated income etc.
- The top content people like in different categories, like women’s apparel or sports, influencers etc.
- Location and language
- Where do people live, and what languages do they speak
- Social Media Usage
- How frequently are people in your target audience using specific social media platforms and what device(s) are they using when they log on
- How many social shares, comments or clicks does your content have peak performance times and most active types of content etc.
By incorporating the data these metrics provide into your content strategy, you’ll have a much better chance of producing content that will be favorably received (read, watched, shared and remembered) by your business’ online community.
Approach content creation in this way and you’ll have mastered one of the most powerful catalysts for brand expansion that modern marketing has ever had access to.
Top Content Research Tools You Should Use
Now that you know what data to look for here are the top tools you’ll need to gather that data.
Note: Some of the fully comprehensive tools that offer vital features for deep content and audience analysis can cost upwards of a couple hundred bucks a month. There are of course, always unpaid options but “free” comes at a cost, as you can only access surface level analytics.
Below are some of the most respected and widely used content research tools that are available:
All digital content is categorized by keywords.
Develop an aggregate of keyword data from which you can build all online content campaigns from – a tool to help you do this is SEMRush.
The 2008 brainchild of experienced marketers and computer programmers, it is an all-in-one digital marketing suite that features a number of online tools that can help in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-per-click advertising (PPC), Keyword Research, Competitive Analysis, Social Media and most importantly for our purposes, Content Marketing.
These tools will help you build killer content:
Organic Research Tool
- See competitor’s best keywords
- Discover new organic competitors
- Observe position changes of domains
Advertising Research Tool
- Uncover your competitors’ ad strategies and budget
- Analyze your online rivals’ ad copies and keywords
- Discover new competitors in Google Adwords and Bing Ads
Display Research Tool
- See top publishers and advertisers
- Analyze competitors’ display ads
- Spot new publishers
Backlink Research Tools
- Conduct a deep link analysis
- Understand referring domains’ authority
- Check backlinks’ types
Keyword Research Tools
- Find the right keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns
- Gather phrase matches and related keywords
- Get long-tail keywords
Product Listing Ads Research Tools
- Define your products listing ads competitors
- Get insight into your PLA competitors’ product feeds
- See your competitors’ best performing PLAs
Similar to SEMRush, Ahrefs is an online SEO company that offers businesses key insights in SEO, keywords and link information.
They are constantly improving their tools to provide customers with fresh links, indexes, and keyword data, making them a great tool for SEO link builders to uncover competitor backlinks, link building opportunities, company link research and the like.
Some of its tools include:
- Easily analyze your site’s backlinks
- Discover the backlinks your competitors’ have
- Explore the most profitable keywords for both organic and paid searches
- FInd viral social media content
- Get insights on what your competitors’ most shared content is
- Find top-performing topics for your next content campaign
- Stay up-to-date with keyword rankings
- Helps you obtain relevant keyword ideas
- See live data of keyword volume and performance
- Analyze your website’s SEO elements
- Discover the SEO weaknesses of your website
- Get detailed reports about your site SEO performance
Hootsuite is a singular dashboard from which you can schedule, post and manage social media content updates and engagement to any page or profile for just about every social platform including but certainly not limited to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.
Not only does it feature sleek social media management tools, but it also offers several analytics tools as well, such as:
- Get a detailed overview of your key metrics
- See real-time snippets of your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter activity
- Track social media trends and measure key milestones in a snap
- Create analytical social media dashboards that are tailored to your goals
- Comprehensive data presented in bite-sized, visually compelling graphs
Social Listening Tool
- Analyze social media engagement
- Determine which platforms host the most engagement on your content, or brand conversations
- Discover who your audience is and what they’re saying about your brand, business, and community
This is the Holy Grail of content research for online marketers, it has everything you need from contextual topic research to topical topic updates.
With this tool, you’ll never run out of content ideas because you’ll have access to the most popular and trending content, categorized by topic and/or website from multiple social sites, online media outlets, blogs, company resource sites and more!
Simply put, Buzzsumo makes content marketing seriously scalable.
It does all of the hard, site scraping work for you. It collects and sends a summary of all the top performing viral content, competitor content and current topical trends directly to your inbox.
With this incredibly time-saving content partner, you can easily pivot your entire content campaign in a snap, consistently establishing your brand as an industry leader for current, relevant content.
It too offers various research tools, like:
- Find out which of your competitors content is gaining popularity
- Discover the networks that your competitors use to distribute all of their content
- Learn who shares your competitors content
- Compare your content with theirs
- Uncover the best performing content of the last 12 months or the last 24 hours
- Focus your efforts on the right social media channels by reviewing the average shares that each channel has for a specific topic, or content medium
- Create the best content by knowing which topics, content formats, and content types work best with your targeted audience.
Facebook Audience Insights
The father of modern social media, Facebook has paved the way for the multi-functional, intergenerational, global adoption of digital networking.
(say that five times fast ; – P )
Housing analytics on just about every single demographic from Asia to the Americas, Facebook grants you access to information about the people that matter the most to your business. Equipping you with the insights you need to deliver meaningful messages directly to them.
Thanks to Facebook Audience Insights.
This is a FREE tool that enables content creators, managers and entrepreneurs to uncover key demographic and psychographic information about Facebook users. Which is a huge deal considering that hundreds of people are creating new profiles on the platform every minute, adding to the already more than 2 billion monthly active users, there is some serious data to dissect, such as:
- The people who are connected to and engage with your Facebook business page
- Information on a generalized group of Facebook users
- Unique information on highly specific groups of people on Facebook
This tool will help you create content that resonates with your targeted audience by giving you access to important information that isn’t readily available on your business’ Facebook page. It is a great mashup of both qualitative and quantitative data presented in sleek easy to read graphs and custom created data sheets.
Once you’ve set up a business page, here’s what you’ll get from Facebook Audience Insights:
- Education Level
- Job Titles
- Relationship Statuses
- Family Size
- Plus a whole lot more
- Likes and Dislikes
- Purchase Behaviours
If you’re having a hard time finding keyword ideas – Ubersuggest is the research tool for you.
Ubersuggest is a free keyword tool that helps marketers find keyword suggestions/ideas and data, such as how much search volume a keyword gets and what its competitions ratings are.
- It’s free to use
- It offers a CSV export option letting you download a big bucket of keyword suggestions
- Each keyword has accompanied charts and stats
- Keyword data is taken directly from Google’s own keyword tracker
Google Master Race
If you haven’t embraced Google and vowed to master the art of partner marketing with it, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Alongside their algorithm refinements, Google has also developed cutting-edge content research tools.
Filled with valuable information that will help you get a better understanding of how online users interact and engage with Google’s various online platforms.
There are 4 Major Google Tools:
- Google Analytics
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Search Operators
- Google Trends
Websites are one of the most important pieces of business collateral that a company can have.
Regardless of your marketing channel of choice – social media, search engine marketing (SEM), pay-per-click (PPC) – ultimately all channels aim to lead your audience to your website. So, when someone does land on your site you’ll want to make sure that it is doing its best to allure your audience to stay and hang out a while.
Use GA to help monitor, manage and improve the performance of your website.
It does this by:
- Attaching tracking codes to various pages of your website
- Recording information such as website activity, user demographics, and psychographics
- Sending all of the recorded data into its server for data organization and safe keeping
- Grouping all of this information into 4 levels:
- User Level: Dependent on the actions of the user
- Session Level: Dependent on each individual visit
- Page View Level: Dependent on each individual page visit
- Event Level: Website Activity – Clicks, Video Views, etc
What specific information can you get from Google Analytics?
User Acquisition Data: Your visitor’s demographics, their location, and where on the web they were acquired from – Facebook, Google Search, or another website.
- Fine tune your digital marketing initiatives, and identify micro details that could be shifted to alter results.
- UAD can be used to highlight which digital channels you should focus on, what specific groups of people you should curate your content for, and what particular topics you should use for your marketing communications collateral.
Basically, this information helps you acquire more of your ideal site visitors and cater your messages to support their journey from a prospect, to lead, to a customer and then raving fan!
User Behavior Data: Information that is based on the actions or activities that your visitors do whilst on your website.
- The duration of how long your visitors stay on your website
- The most visited web pages on your website
- The site journey of your visitors throughout your website (the path they follow)
- The most common entrance and exit points for your website
This information will help fine-tune the design of your site to create an optimal experience for its users.
Once your UX has been optimized, then you can focus on making further changes that will improve content, lead capture, conversions, and retention.
Google Keyword Planner
This is a gem for those looking for keyword data but doesn’t have the capital to invest in a paid keyword research tool.
GKP is a free keyword research tool, originally developed by Google to be used for their Google Adwords platform. However, it can be used as an alternative to paid research tools, such as SEMRush and Ahrefs.
Note: Given that Google Keyword Planner is found within the Google Adwords platform, most of the data it produces is positioned to support successful PPC campaigns. However, it does offer valuable insights that can be referenced for those looking to create powerful content.
Some of its featured data include:
- Average Keyword Volume: How many people search for the keyword – every month.
- Average CPC: The estimated cost-per-click value of the keyword in Google Adwords.
- Keyword Competition: An estimate of how difficult it is to rank for a keyword in Adwords.
Google Search Operators
Many a marketer has fallen for the old belief that once you have integrated a lot of high search volume keywords into your web content, then that’s the end of your content optimization process.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
A solid content campaign relies not only on keyword optimized content but also its link-ability.
For a content campaign to be successful it must further fuel your website’s growth in the SERPs (search engine result pages) In order for that to happen, your content must be crafted to support a robust link building campaign.
Therefore, you must conduct research on the types of content that those you aspire to link to share.
Welcome – Google Search Operators!
Google Search Operators are a group of special characters and commands that you add to your researched keywords which filter the web and connect you to relevant industry websites that offer high valued content to your target market.
These bad boys will direct you to hundreds of link prospects! Your job is to review their content and then determine what generates the most engagement, what topic trends can be identified across the popular niche relevant websites, and ultimately what opportunities do you have to offer more/better value than what’s already available – or ideally, what content gaps have been overlooked that you can fulfill.
For a list of the most common and useful Search Operators check out my article on Link Building and Outreach.
The main reason why you’re researching demographic and psychographic information is to obtain insights on the behavior of your targeted audiences in order to understand them in such a way that you can influence their consumer instincts.
One of the biggest pitfalls that businesses face is that they create content that isn’t targeted towards the audience that they actually want (or should want to) engage with.
As a business owner and over decade-long digital marketer, I can assure you that having a detailed understanding of your ideal customer and a crystal clear comprehension of the role they play in the lifelong growth of your business is vital.
It’s accessible knowledge that shan’t be left to chance!
Now that you know how to get inside the mind of your potential clients…
Let’s cover what you do with that data!
There’s no denying that effective (and efficient) content planning requires the organization of a lot of moving parts.
Managing raw deliverables like:
And then coordinating a slew of tech-elements such as:
- email distribution and
- digital publishing on websites and social media platforms
It’s no wonder why the whole process can get your head spinning.
So where do you start?
Set clear goals and objectives. Brainstorm with your team:
- The execution date
- Promotion duration of your campaign and
- The assumed KPIs it will be measured against
Scope out what the main objectives of your campaign are. Why are you creating content in the first place?
- Spread brand awareness
- Drive website or social media traffic
- Generate more qualified leads
- Increase sales
There should always be a logical and measurable reason, directly connected to an end result.
Once you’ve decided on an actionable and measurable goal(s), the next step is to determine what framework to use and then of course what content you will use to fill it.
Types of Content You Can Create
There are a lot of different content frameworks out there that you use to shape your campaign.
Each providing a particular purpose – some perform better as lead magnets that drive email opt-ins, while some best perform to increase the potency of your websites SEO cred.
You can definitely follow this list of recommended frameworks, but determining which ones will work best to suit your needs and aid in achieving your targets is a matter of trying, monitoring and measuring its success.
Always be prepared to tweak, or switch up your strategy to ensure that your content choices are providing the maximum ROI.
To get you started, here are some the most widely used, result generating content types:
A classic, top performing content type. Simply compile compelling information on a specific topic, idea, practice, tool, etc. Give it a catchy title, ensure it’s visually appealing and easy to read… and voila! You have yourself a tasty little listicle [list – article] like the one our outreach manager put together on the top content and outreach tools for a successful SEO strategy.
People spend hours [read: days, years, lifetimes] on the internet gathering information on the things they don’t know how to do – hence the market monopoly of Google. How-to content offers readers a chance to learn from step-by-step, detailed information that’s designed specifically to help them towards experiencing success in what they seek. Like this one on How-To make a kick-ass press release.
4. Case Studies
Tell prospects how you solved (or would approach solving their problems) through the use of detailed Case Studies. This style of content greatly resonates with B2B potentials and is extremely influential in guiding prospects to confidently make a purchasing decision of your product or service
A cousin to the Case Study, testimonials are a priceless and highly coveted piece of content that should be a priority for every single business since they highlight customers sharing – in their own words – their experience of you solving their pain or problem.
6. Comparisons and “Versus” Content
Most commonly seen in product reviews, YouTube reviews and the like, they can also showcase comparisons between ideas and topics which would help your audience gain perspective in a purchasing decision.
7. Industry News
Tap into new and exciting content that is hyper-relevant and topical in nature. In the industry, we call it “newsjacking” and this generally manifests as timely industry news that would (or could) impact your target market. You simply “jack” the news and create original content accordingly. Timing is a major factor for this strategy, when possible you want to be the news breaker.
A listicle/newsjacking mash up, roundups compile a comprehensive list of frequently updated, relevant topics, ideas or influencers that would support or entice your audience. Often found on resource pages, this type of content serves as a quick overview of impactful content that your audience craves.
Dive into the nit and grit of all things pertaining to a certain topic that your audience is keen to learn a lot about. Guides are a form of content that disseminate a tremendous amount of useful information into actionable, timely, and relevant reference sources.
psstt… you’re reading one of them right now 😉
Traditionally, condensed actionables. Informative, step by step checklists are designed to help your targeted audience achieve an end goal, or attain a particular desire by following a step-by-step guide that walks them through the overarching stages of a process. Is often paired with a guide or long form listicle to fill in the gaps.
11. Templates or Worksheets
Best used as gated content aka a lead generator – your audience gets X (content) in exchange for Y (their email address). Templates are a detailed outline your audience can take and apply to a particular stage of a step by step process you’ve outlined for them. Generally crafted in conjunction with guides, white papers and/or checklists. Like this Link Building Campaign Planner we offer as a downloadable resource.
12. White Papers
White Papers generally focus on outlining in extensive detail a solution to a particular problem. Typically used for B2B purposes, as they often profile the challenges that businesses face on the day-to-day. Like our link building and outreach guide, it profiles the pain points and offers an in-depth solution to scaling a dynamic link building campaign. A perfect white paper is structured to address a problem, offer a solution that yields a result, making it a particularly perfect partner to case studies.
Infographics are visually stimulating content, that compiles bites sized representations of compelling facts that summarise the narrative of a larger content piece. These easy-to-digest, one pagers are perfect for your audience who is short on time (or attention span) and when done well they are dynamite for generating social shares and quality backlinks for your website.
Ideal for driving traffic to your business’ various digital hubs (be it social platforms, web pages, content or landing pages), emails are the crown jewel of content marketing. A proven method for establishing an authentic connection with your audience, they nurture long-term relationships that support growth. Most commonly used in conjunction with a lead generating piece of gated content and continuous, objective driven content delivered on a set schedule. Most importantly, they should always include a ton of value. Join our tribe for leading SEO, link building, content crushing, Google dominating insights delivered directly to your inbox.
Typically communicated with your audience through email lists, courses are a type of content that can be created for lead generation, brand awareness, content, product or service promotion purposes and solidifying sales. We’ve revamped and launched our white hat link building and outreach course it’s a 7 lesson email series chalked FULL of wicked content, resources, lessons and more – Want In?
16. News Releases and Pitches
The goal is to be featured in a relevant or closely connected publication to that of your target audience. Most commonly utilized by journalists and editors, however, anyone can pitch quality content and earn a featured spot on a well renowned digital publication. The trick is nailing the PR content framework. This content feat can be a challenge to land, but if and when it is accomplished and your content gets syndicated your audience reach (and industry authority) grows exponentially.
17. Websites and Web Pages
Websites are the lifeblood of any company that wants to maintain relevance. If you don’t have one yet, be sure to make that happen pronto. Note the major difference between a landing or webpage and a responsively designed website. Be sure you include all relevant information pertaining to your company – include who you are, what you do, and where you operate. Consulting and/or hiring a professional copywriter familiar with SEO will ensure that your site content is unique and integrates a Google-approved keyword strategy.
18. Landing Pages
Landing pages are essentially a one paged website made to capture lead information from your market. Crafted for a specific and singular purpose, landing pages are strategically designed to promote courses, events, webinars, downloadable documents, application forms and more. An important ingredient for lead generation and growing your digital marketing footprint.
Video content continues to rise in significance and influence as a result of the steadily growing popularity of video platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram stories and live video features. Share behind the scenes insights, personal stories and special features in fast, easily digestible content to personify your brand, establish relationships and catapult the growth of your audience.
20. Presentation Deck
Presentation decks will always be an important content strategy for any B2B company. Whether brought to life via webinars, power points, PDFs or videos, they showcase important information through a highly visualized format which increases both lead generation and brand awareness.
21. Blog Posts
Blogs are and likely always will be an important pillar of online content. The niche-specific news sources and educational institutions of the 21st century, these website staples aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Check out our library of stellar SEO content for insights and inspiration.
22. Vlog Posts
Quite simply the video version of blogs, they have all of the aspects that make up a blog but are presented into a compelling video format.
For an ever-increasing on-the-go audience, podcasts are an ideal (and largely untapped) content medium businesses should definitely consider as a way to share their expertise. An online, traditionally audio based show that shares interviews, insights and discussions on industry-specific topics, podcasts are a perfect way to collaborate with various businesses, expand your exposure, whilst educating and inspiring your target market to take action.
As you can see, a lot of options and endless posibilities..
Search Engine Optimised Content
Optimized content is the fuel that drives your SEO rocket ship.
When correctly created, keyword optimized content will not only catapult the success of the visibility of your website in search rankings but will validate that what you have to share is what Google’s searchers seek.
So how do you optimize your site for a successful content marketing campaign?
Make sure that what you’re planning to add doesn’t conflict with what’s already there. To determine this you’ll need a content audit.
Additionally, a content audit will ensure that what’s on your site is in fact targeted towards your desired audience.
A comprehensive content audit is a highly informative process that incorporates a deep site crawl and beneath the surface technical evaluations. The depth of which is outside the context of this article.
However, the ultimate goal of a content audit can be summarised to provide you with a general understanding of the types content on your site that can either help or hinder the technical SEO structure and performance of your site and any future content you add.
Your website’s content can be broken up into four categories which are filtered by four functions.
Begin by looking into the keywords that you have used for your website’s on-page, meta, and backend content.
- Make sure that the keyword(s) you use are relevant and evergreen, to ensure that your content will continuously rank competitively in search queries.
- They should have a high search volume and be laser-focused towards your niche. Reference back to the initial keyword research that was conducted for further clarification on this.
- Evaluate the keywords that you have already integrated into existing content to ensure that they are in sync with the audiences you want to reach and are aligned with the keyword strategy you’ve chosen to use for future content.
Secondly, manually audit your contents originality. The time required to complete this will vary greatly depending on the size of your site. Obviously, the more pages (and content) your site has the longer this will take.
Many SEO agencies automate this process using various software’s, however in my experience, these can allow largely (success impeding) oversights to slip through the cracks.
Manual audits always outperform automated software.
That being said, obviously scraping all of Google’s indexed pages for duplicate content is an unreasonable manual task, which is why you can use tools to support with the gathering of data.
Google Analytics is a great help for this.
Once all of the information has been gathered, you should manually evaluate each URL to establish which page-level actions are required to streamline your content.
When determining whether or not you should keep, improve, consolidate or remove content from your site it is important to consider some of the following factors:
Content to keep:
- Lead generating content
- Resource pages with a lot of internal links
- Pages important for customer support
- Content that is converting at or above industry standard conversion rates
- Pages that generate decent traffic and quality external backlinks
- Content with relevant, high volume keywords
Content to improve upon:
- If it did at one point perform decently but has since gone stale
- Currently showing small signs of ranking potential (page 5 in Google)
- Fulfills market content gaps but misuses keyword strategy
Content to remove or consolidate:
- Low-quality pages that offer no competitive keywords or quality link juice from external backlinks
- Duplicate content (consolidate all keywords into one big article)
- Using Google Analytics identify and then consolidate poor performing pages into the one generating the most traffic using 301 redirects to preserve link equity.
Here’s a quick reference table for you:
Essentially, you’re looking for any content-related issues that might cause an algorithmic filter or manual penalty to be applied, thereby dragging down your rankings and impeding the success of any future content you add to the internet.
If you do this correctly and make the necessary changes to your site’s content you’ll see improvement in your website’s current traffic, as well as increase your clarity of what is required for your future content campaigns.
Keyword Optimised Content
Briefly, let’s review best practices on integrating keywords into your content to secure SEO success.
It’s incredibly challenging with the digital landscape as it is today to rank competitively for a singular relevant, industry term.
In your keyword research you uncovered what terms best support searchers finding your content, and while these terms are important and should be naturally incorporated into pivotal content spots such as:
- image alt text
- toward the front of your title and/or H1
- within the URL
- and the first 100 words of the text body
There are other important ways to communicate to Google what it is your content is about.
Way back in 2013 Google introduced an algorithmic enhancement that included semantic intelligence.
Their content crawlers not only identify highly searched keywords but also those that are semantically related.
Google is able to identify the topic of your content based on your primary keywords as well as the integration of words and phrases that are related to your main topic.
Not to be confused with synonyms, these words choices go along with and contextualize your pages main keyword.
Dubbed, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.
The more you can integrate these intelligently into your content, the more confident Google will be about your content’s true meaning and the better they’ll rank you for your desired keyword.
This update showcased Google’s commitment to search sophistication and the desire to understand the intent behind searcher’s queries, with the goal of not only providing searches with relevant text but high quality, intelligently crafted content.
Okay, before we dive into the final stages of actually creating and promoting your content, it’s important to plan it all out.
For this to run smoothly you’ll need a content calendar.
Yo! Schedule your Content
Once you know what keywords you’re going to use, what content types you’re going to create and for which purpose… you’ll need to map it all out to be sure that you are spacing your deliverables in such a way that will present your audience with a diverse array of content, on the appropriate platforms, at opportune times.
(yes, that is a lot to coordinate…)
Not to mention…
Staying organized will eliminate undue stress since you’ll be clear on how much time to allot to each piece for preparation, creation and outreach.
Fail to organize yourself from the beginning and once the ball gets rolling … everything becomes a HOT mess.
When a content campaign starts you have to:
- manage writers and designers
- proofread written content
- source and review images and illustrations
- review optimization requirement
- conduct outreach
- manage distribution on all the socials, email and 3rd party distributors
The list of to do’s is long – and that’s just for a single campaign.
Imagine when you have multiple campaigns targeting numerous demographics and markets – all needing attention and consistent engagement.
The simple solution to managing this inevitable madness is a content calendar.
Why you NEED a Content Calendar
It’s a singular point of reference for developing, creating, curating, publishing and promoting the content for your company’s website, resource pages, blogs, newsletters, various social media posts for all of the platforms. As well as a place to plan and prepare sales copy for landing pages, launches, promotions and more…
Creating a Content Calendar
Content calendars can actually be kind of tricky to make and are ultimately a personal reflection of your businesses objectives as well as the preferences of whoever is managing it.
First things first, you should set up the actual “Calendar”.
It should have a general monthly overview that serves as the main “dashboard” for all scheduling.
The main fields that you should input are the following:
- Content Title
- Monthly Overview
- Weekly Preview
- Daily Detail-view
Once that’s done the next essential part is the content planner.
Basically, the content planner section holds the pillar information of the calendar.
This is where you input all of the most important information for your content production process.
The main fields that you should input are:
- Content Title: The title of your content doesn’t matter if it is tentative or ready to go.
- Content Overview: A brief description of what the content is all about.
- Content-Type: The content that you are going to make (Blog, Video, Infographic, etc.).
- Category: The general niche that your content will target (Business, Fashion, Real Estate, etc)
- Audience: The general demographic that your content will target (Marketing Managers, Housewives, business owners).
- Main Keyword(s): The keyword(s) that you’ll use as the reference point for your content.
- Completion Date: The date when your writers and designers have finished the content
- Publish Date: The date where you will distribute the content.
- URL Link: The main link of the content.
- Draft Status: To be updated by your writer, this would let you know if your content is still under-development or if it’s completed.
- Image Status: To be updated by your designer, this would let you know if your image assets have already been included in your content.
- Resources: This is where you input the people that you’ll be assigning to create your content (Writers, Designers, etc.)
At Digital Lead we use two content calendars. One that reflects on-site and outreach content and one for social media. We’ve tried versions that combined the two “streams” in one planner and found it irritating.
It will take some time for you to settle on a content planning system that will seamlessly work for you and your team.
Just remember, that the up-front time you dedicate to figuring out the best solution to clearly and easily communicate and manage all projects will be well worth it in the end.
You’ll be organized, efficient and ultimately far more productive than you would be without a solid system in place.
Download our social media content calendar & our editorial calendar PLUS every resources in this article here!
Now that the plan is in place, it’s time to get crackin’ on creating your content.
The first thing to consider is production efficiency and workflow.
If you have a content team in place then it’s simply a matter of delegation and management. Ensuring everyone is fulfilling their duties in accordance with the plan and producing high-quality work.
The most common issues companies experience is meeting deadlines and production milestones.
As long as you have a clear content calendar, open communication, and scheduled check-ins everything should roll out pretty smoothly.
There are, however, a few things though to take into consideration as this next phase begins.'If you’re not putting relevant content in relevant places, you don’t exist.' Gary VaynerchukClick To Tweet
Content Creation Process
High-quality content is a result of adequate research, time and experience. Therefore, if your campaign is a comprehensive web of interconnected content, establishing a qualified team ahead of time who can execute efficiently is essential.
Team Composition and Task Assignment
Given that you’ve completed the SEO research and you know what type of content you’ll be using and the topics you’ll be focusing on… your next focus is aligning with people who are experts (or at the very least know of) what it is you’ve asked them to “talk” about.
If you have writers and creators who are embarking upon a topic (of which they have little to zero experience in) then of course research can be conducted and a high-quality piece can be created – just bear in mind that, doing so will lengthen the time required to complete the process.
If your production schedule (and budget) can accommodate the extra days then go ahead and diversify your team. If not, then it would be best if you focus the core of your campaign on the topics that you and your team are confident in.
Obviously, you can always write your own content, but when it comes time to scale, this will be an unrealistic and ineffective strategy. Therefore you’ll need to hire writers.
Now, when it comes to assigning tasks to designers, my perspective differs slightly.
There’s little room for redos and inexperience.
Quality is paramount for graphics and illustrations.
Always make sure that your designers know what they’re doing and have a clear understanding of the brand’s vision.
A writer could write a really great piece of work, but if the finished product is displayed in a displeasing package you’ll stunt your success before you even get started.
UnFun Fact: The production process isn’t always pretty.
Writing drafts, graphics creation, editing, revisions and a lot of feedback can make this process feel –suuuupppeerrr– slow.
Going through the motions and working closely with your team will reveal efficiencies you can correct along the way. The main thing to consider here is the amount of time that you allot for each task that’s tied to the production process.
Be mindful of your workflow and its impact on your deadlines and budget.
Creating a time and motion study on how fast your team can produce content is a good idea as it will align expectations, provide accountability and a framework for which all future content campaigns can be planned (and improved upon).
There are a lot of tracking tools out there that make this super easy:
Time Doctor is a SaaS time tracking and productivity tool launched by the founders of Staff.com. The platform offers a lot in functionality, it’s an all-in-one human resource tool.
Here are its offered functions:
- Screenshots – Automatic screenshots monitor user activity
- Integrations – Integrates with all leading project management tools
- Reporting – Comprehensive reports show all tracked time
- Payroll – Process payment for clients & employees
- Cross-Platform – Desktop, tablet, & mobile
- Web & App Usage – See time spent on individuals apps & websites
- Time Use Alerts – Automatic alerts keep employees on task
Similar to Time Doctor, Paymo is a SaaS time tracking and project management tool that helps teams with collaboration, timesheet management, and project accounting.
Here are some of its features:
- Task Management – Schedule & monitor your team’s real-time activities
- Desktop & Mobile Time Tracking – Measure production time via desktop and mobile apps for both IOS and Android
- Timesheet Reporting – See what your team is working on daily and how much time they have spent on each task or project
Once you have a project tracking tool in place, you’ll need a proper management document or platform where you can monitor your team’s production and communicate updates and project revisions.
I highly recommend them.
You can start with something simple and then customize it to your needs as you go – they’re intuitive to use, and free which is sweet plus there are a lot of guides and online tutorials that can help you out if and when you want to take your efficiencies to the next level.
The capabilities are endless so there is always room to grow.
Other popular tools include:
Truth be told… there are way too many to name. Your best bet is to just try and see what works best for you and your team.
Content Quality Standards
Creating quality, high performing web content is less a creative process and more formulaic. Multiple studies have shown that the “best” online content for today’s internet users share a few important commonalities.
Unless your Seth Godin and you’ve built up a 2-decade long habit of a few hundred words a day, or you’re an established domain with enough web-cred to publish whatever you want, you should adopt a content approach that focuses on long-form content.
That means consistently producing 2000+ word, high-quality blog posts.
The majority of blog posts are on average 500 words. By adding at least 1500 more words of actual value (that parts in important), you are going to stand out in the eyes of Google, Bing, and other search engines.
The thing is, this is not “new news”.
Back in 2015 Moz and Buzzsumo teamed up to analyze 1 million articles. The most important of their findings (for our purposes) was this:
“Long form content (over 1000 words) consistently receives more shares and backlinks then shorter content.”
Then they went on to explain that…
“85% of content being published online consists of less than 1000 words.”
Which means 1 of 2 things:
- Either business owners haven’t seen or are ignoring this important information or
- They don’t understand what quality long-form content is and aren’t bothered to ensure they’re doing it right
Therefore, businesses looking to amp up their SEO authority, and get an organic traffic boost from Google, need simply to commit to creating quality, long-form articles each month.
Luckily for you, this isn’t hard.
Other benefits that come from investing your resources in long-form content creation include:
- Higher engagement
- Increased length of website visits
- Quality backlink building opportunities
- Established credibility and thought leadership in your industry
- Caters to an invested audience, provides notable value and support that can generate more leads and long-term profits
In fact, long-form posts are 9X more effective then short-form posts for generating leads.
And if that doesn’t excite you…
Buffer conducted an experiment where they halted the production of new content for one month. Instead, they repackaged and redistributed their existing evergreen, long-form content as an email course.
This strategy generated 18,185 new signups within their first 6 days!
The Psychology of Content Creation
Taking into consideration that consumers attention spans are shrivelling up, today’s content creators are faced with a few psychological challenges.
The average content consumer spends approximately 37 seconds “reading” an article.
Studies show that if a piece of content can nab the reader’s attention for at least 3 minutes it will increase the chances of that visitor returning to your website and joining your email list, and moving through the path of a prospect to lead to happy customer.
So, how do you captivate someone’s attention for 3 whole minutes online?
Create killer content.
More specifically, your content must be relevant to and packed full of value for your target audience.
Accomplishing this – more often than not – requires length, links and savvy keyword integration. Imagine creating content that will get forwarded onto a manager or decision maker, or perhaps catch the of said manager who will then pass it down the line to educate his or her staff on how to do X like a pro.
Fortunately, all of the previous research you’ve conducted will make this SUPER doable.
Which means all that’s left to do is put it together for your audience to enjoy.
Do this right (and well) and inevitably Google will reward you as a relevant, top ranking result for searchers.
Below is a list of rank influencing actionables you should inject into your long-form content:
- Simple, clear and coherent language – Avoid overly “academic” language or inflated industry jargon when possible, be deep and thorough but simple and digestible.
- Easy to read – Include white space, italics, bolding and bullet points that highlight important takeaways.
- Headings and subheadings – Break up long content into scan-able sections, allow readers to find what they want and/or need quickly.
- An initial overview or index – Outline for the reader what it is that this article will offer them, who it was written for, outline a path at the beginning to instill trust that what they have before them is worth their time.
- Diagrams, images, and visual appeal – Break up long chunks of texts with relevant images, or pictorial depictions of statistics, a mini-infographic, a video, or simply integrate colored text boxes with a distinctive font.
- Entertaining – Inject clever, humorous language if and when possible or bring emotion to the narrative, an unexpected twist goes a long way.
- Credible and Educational – Ensure you speak from experience and/or clearly identify and validate who the expert is that you’re referencing.
- Practical and Relevant – Include actionable takeaways that offer unique value, provide direction and yield immediate satisfaction, inspiration or motivation.
Keep ROI top of mind
It’s in your best interest to invest your efforts in evergreen content.
Ideally, the information you present to readers will be as valuable in the future as it is for them right now. Doing so will support organic growth in search engines. Plus, you could always take a page from Buffer’s book and repackage it for a “newer” audience later on down the line and reap some serious lead generating rewards.
The most powerful content types that support longer formats include:
- Expert or go-to guides
Don’t kick short-form content to the curb
Cutting straight to the chase, shorter-form content is not a waste of time.
There are however more relevant and powerful places for it to live than your website’s blog.
Try out social media and direct marketing channels.
Whilst some platforms definitely support long-form content (think YouTube, Facebook, medium etc.), the general engagement habits of social media consumers are generally short bursts of broken, interrupted activity.
Considering that the average person spends roughly 135 minutes on social media each day and has on average 7 social accounts, it’s a safe assumption that people are spending approximately less than 20 minutes on each account at any given time.
And while 20 minutes may not be enough time to absorb everything there is to know on a particular topic, it is most definitely a sufficient amount of time for someone to resonate with your brand story, engage with your business, get to know more about your products and/or services and establish foundational trust for a long-lasting relationship.
That being said, each social platform generally attracts a different demographic and elicits a different style of content.
Therefore, planning out which of your content strategies is best suited for the various platforms can be tough.
Below are lists of the best types of short-form content formats:
- List posts
- Comparison reviews
- Reviews and testimonials
- Roundups and best of lists
- Breaking news recaps
I’ve included a brief overview of how to best utilize content on some of the most popular platforms.
- Facebook Business/Fan Pages: Hybrid content (long/short, text/image/ recorded and live videos)
- Easiest access to an older audience
- Easiest to bring direct action to your business
- Clickable, ad, videos
- Good at a lot of things
- Pinterest: Purchase priming for the up and coming generation of active consumers
- Caters to the millennial market
- Very visual (images, infographics)
- Instagram: Showcase, relatively high-quality content (images, short live videos)
- Resonates with all audiences
- Google+: Similar functionality (and content styles) of facebook
- Predominantly tech-savvy, early adopter, business-minded males
- Categories’ users via “circles” similar to facebook and twitter
- Twitter: Loud and fast top users post frequently and continuously
- Big pushes, big sales, copy testing, direct customer engagement
- Snapchat: Niche Marketing Tool
- Younger audiences (teenagers – young 20’s)
- Lifestyle, behind the scenes, informal and fun
- Youtube: Long Form Marketing, upload long(er) videos
- Marketing messages that share a story, aligned with people’s usage expectations
- Highly attuned audience looking for tutorials, how to’s and guidance
- E-mail: Lifeblood of marketing for all businesses
- Best way to build customer loyalty
- Powerful asset
- Massive ROI
Always diversify the types of content you create, determine your objectives ahead of time so that each effort fulfills a specific purpose.
Alright, your content is crafted, the plan is in place and you know who you’d like to link up with.
Now it’s time to promote.
Simply publishing content won’t equate to viable online traffic.
Every day thousands of blogs, videos, and infographics are competing for attention.
Unfortunately, effectively spreading the word that fresh content is ready for consumption is where most companies fail.
But you have this guide, so that won’t happen to you!
There are various online channels where you can promote your content, some are free, some are paid. Both have the potential to get you valuable, high quality, online traffic.
Owned Distribution Channels
Promotion should always start with your company’s owned distribution channels.
They’re free, and readily available and are a direct connection to a warm, engaged audience.
While social platforms are a prime place for native short-form content, they are also an invaluable tool to promote (and provide a link to) your pillar website content or your guest post contributions.
Promoting your content via your social account is as simple as scheduling it.
Plug into your content calendar when you want to promote a piece of content, create a native copy, optimize the post for maximum exposure and then publish for your followers, connections and passing audience to see.
How to Optimise a Post
This often-overlooked task is important if you want your content to have the necessary metadata to let Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn know what your content is about.
Ensure each post has:
- A meta description (short summary of your content)
- A thumbnail image (size differs depending on the social media platform) and
- Meta tags (keywords)
Having an overarching, quarterly social media distribution strategy is ideal.
It helps alleviate the stress associated from last minute posting and eliminates the chances of completely forgotten posts altogether, whilst still leaving space to adapt to maintain relevancy.
Best practices call for your content managers to work out a plan before you start a content campaign.
Here are a few things to help you get started:
- Content isn’t a one size fits all
- Choose the channels that you’ll actually be able to and want to create content for. Some of your content might be great for Facebook, but might be inappropriate for Linkedin. Choose and use with care.
- Study the demographic and psychographic information of your social media channels first and determine if your audiences in each channel are a fit to the content that you’ll distribute there. If they aren’t – either alter your content approach or the channel you’re choosing to publish on. Be sure to always keep your Ideal Customer top of mind. Create content for the channels, where your target audience is active. Don’t waste your time if your audience isn’t active.
- Post at the right times. As I said before, social media channels have built-in analytics that can show you when your targeted audience is most active. Use this information to your advantage – your content should show up when they are there trolling… err… scrolling ; – )
Do you have a subscriber/email list?
If so then you’ve just tapped into a power player in content distribution.
Subscriber lists are a wicked way to speak directly to people that are actively engaged with and find value in the content that you create.
They are after all the people who liked your content so much that they traded their personal information (their email) to get more of it.
They’re asking to be a part of your world – it’s your job to establish a relationship with them.
Sending them curated content from your library of blogs, videos, and infographics that speaks to their interests, aspirations, and struggles.
Depending on your email service provider (ESP), you can tag and grade your subscribers. This will help you identify what content they click through to or spend the most time on. It will communicate to you what they’ve seen or haven’t in your offerings and outlines what stage of market sophistication they are in.
It’s intimate, it’s personal and it’s highly effective.
Plus, it’s an asset you own.
Let’s say Facebook implodes tomorrow and the hundreds or thousands of “fans” you’ve collected disappear… how will you connect with them? Will they remember you?
Email ensures that you are in control of what content they see and how frequently you show up for them. It’s an invaluable tool to connect with your audience and nurture trust and lifelong relationships.
This should go without saying – but I’m going to say it anyway…
Please make sure that your email lists are opted-in and not bought. No one like to receive emails from people they don’t know, it spammy and distasteful, plus (depending on where you live) people could actually sue you.
Paid Distribution Channels
For those looking to take their content campaigns to the next level, you’ll likely want to indulge in the world of paid distribution.
Paid distribution can be challenging and involves a lot of research and technical know-how.
However, it is possible for everyone if you approach it the right way.
Let’s take a look at some highly acclaimed paid distribution channels.
Paid Display Ads
Also known as banner ads, paid display ads are online advertisements where your content (Videos, Images, and Text) will be distributed by online ad servers such Google Display Network (which shows Google Adwords ads) and Facebook’s Atlas (which uses Facebook’s targeting info) to place advertisements all across the web.
How does this work?
Basically, paid display ads are online billboards that presents your content in thumbnails or videos.
Once people click on these ads they will then be redirected towards your website, landing page, video, blog, or where ever you chose to send them.
The whole process works under the PPC (pay-per-click) model so you’ll only know if they’re effective when someone clicks on your actual ads.
Paid Search Ads
Also known as “Search Engine Marketing” (SEM), your content will be placed amongst text ads that would be placed in search engine result pages. This channel is great if you’re planning on distributing “actionable” content such as eBooks, White Papers, and Gated Articles.
Basically, you’ll be using the Google Adwords platform to distribute your content.
Here are some tips and tricks to ensure that your Ad campaigns achieve a positive ROI:
- Build a solid keyword list first before starting a Google Adword campaign
- Use compelling ad copy – make it relevant, impactful and straight to the point – you’ll be up against highly optimized search results and competing for ad searches, so you better make your ad copy catchy
- You don’t have to follow Google Adwords suggested bid rates – use a budget strategy that works for you. The goal here is trying to get as much information for the 1st 2 months before you amp up the bid prices.
Paid Social Media
Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter – most all social media channels – have paid advertisement platforms where you can have your content actively and intentionally distributed to a hyper-targeted group of users.
Most of these Ad platforms allows crazy customizing options that determine exactly who your content will be distributed to. This is a huge bonus as you can align your custom crafted content to your ideal audience and then ensure that they are the only ones who will see it, increasing your conversions.
For example: Ever look something up on Google, let’s say… a tropical vacation destinations … and then notice that almost every ad you see thereafter is of flight deals, swimwear sales and hotel packages in far off tropical heavens?
That’s not a coincidence my friends.
You were retargeted.
This strategy is incredibly effective for driving interested traffic to your content.
Ensure that your content is chalked full of value and includes an intentional call to action (CTA).
While this lesson may be little in length, it is mighty in impact.
Do you know what the most effective form of marketing is?
Word. Of. Mouth.
Always has been, always will be.
Authentic engagement is so damn important when it comes to promoting your content.
Whether it’s contributions to social media threads or responding to the comments left on your blog articles – whatever way you can directly engage with your audience – do it.
When I think of people who do this and do it well, I think of Gary Vaynerchuk.
Few people successfully interact with their audience as well as him, and his irrefutable success across the entire landscape of social media and digital marketing is no coincidence.
When he has something to share, a new book, sneaker, bottle of wine or speaking engagement to promote – people listen and they take action because they are connected to him.
The lines that distinctly define brand and friend are blurred.
He’s accessible, interactive and relatable.
A dynamic and influential combination every business should aspire to be.
Let’s Wrap This Up!
More to this than you realized?
(Tell me about it, when I sat down to share some knowledge – I wasn’t really expecting 10,000+ words either.)
After reading this, you might feel like succeeding at this content thing is more complicated than you initially anticipated.
I get it. It is a lot.
But as with all things in life, what you put in is what you get out.
If a killer content marketing campaign is a critical mission for you…
(…which to be honest, if you want to establish your authority online and grow your brand, business, and bottom line…)
…then it is – mission critical.
You’ve got to do the work.
Just learn to take it in stride. Step by step.
- Solid and diligent research
- Organized planning
- Caliber creation and efficient production
- Smart promotions
Do this, on repeat and you could be the next Joe Pulizzi.
Digital marketing is a constantly evolving ecosystem. Something that may work today, could require a massive shift tomorrow.
For this reason, make sure to stay in the know. This guide will be revisited and revised every year so come back and check in. Continue to do your research before you kick off a new campaign.
- Look for new trends you can leverage, for new keyword opportunities
- Research – Compile – Analyze – Execute
- Never be afraid to Try – Flop – Recoup and Relaunch
- Remember that success in the prep
If you haven’t clicked through to our related and recommended content I encourage you to do so.
You can download this as a PDF which includes a compiled list of all resources here.
Continue to be a student of the craft and hone your skill, learn from your mistakes and celebrate your successes.
Now it’s your turn!
I’d love to hear your experiences, whats been working for you, what hasn’t. Share your loses and your wins and how you intend on scaling your content marketing!
Let me know by leaving a quick comment below 🙂